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The trauma of trying to 'blend' words with my 5yo d/s

(62 Posts)
laudymissclaudy Tue 13-Nov-12 22:14:18

My son started school in September (also turned 5!) and he is beginning to learn to read. He can recognise letters and knows the sounds however when I comes to blending 'd-o-g' 'dog' the nightmare begins. He really struggles and starts to get upset and throws tantrums as soon as I mention practicing some of the words the school sent home! I spoke to his teach who agreed he would not blend (rather than can't?) and said the teaching assistant will be doing some extra work with the children who are struggling! Has anyone else had an issue with this part of reading? His school uses the read write inc programme. It's getting to a point I dread getting it out as the huff that follows doesn't seem worth it!

steppemum Wed 14-Nov-12 23:09:05

Although I agree with what a lot of people have said about being ready, I would also like to say that after school he is tired.

My dd is apparently storming ahead with reading at school. I have no idea as suggesting reading after school gets such a negative response. She has had enough. We are doing very little at home at the moment. I try and do it a couple of times over the weekend and sneak it in when I can, but if I try and sit down with her to do her sounds she just says no!

I know teaching reading relies on parents reading with their kids, but at this level they realy are so tired after a day at school, that it is unrealistic to expect much from them in terms of blending, phonics and focussing.

thingy1 Wed 14-Nov-12 23:02:44

I'm sure he will be fine, he's only 5 like someone up thread said formal education doesn't start in some countries until the age of 6/7. I had the same concerns with my 5 yr old DS, heard a lot about bear necessaries gave it a go, it really helped him and now a few months into yr 1 he is blending and is confidentially working his way through his reading books. I think it was a combination of using the bear necessaries book and it 'clicking' for him.

volley Wed 14-Nov-12 22:56:20

We're finding this fantastic:

SilveryMoon Wed 14-Nov-12 22:46:25

I've been doing some cued articulation with both my ds's. You basically use your hand by your face to mimic what the mouth does and where the tounge shouldbe.
I'm sure it will all fall into place soon

maizieD Wed 14-Nov-12 22:30:52

He also gets on and no confused, says d's as b's and b's and d's when reading, on instead of no and today I watched him looking at the word 'tap' and saying 'p-a-t. No, t or p or is it t' etc. I have raised it with his teacher but she says it's nothing to be concerned about................

Where do some teachers get their ideas fromshock

Of course it is something to be concerned about. Everytime he gets something wrong like that he is reinforcing the wrong learning and making it more and more difficult to correct it.

Reading words from right to left is easy to deal with. Just get a piece of card and cover the word, reveal it grapheme by grapheme, thus making sure that he decodes it from L to R every time. Don't stress about him sounding out every word, let him do it for a while as that will reinforce the development of automatic L to R eye tracking. I'm sorry but I suspect that word 'reversals' like the ones you describe are often a product of insistence on reading words 'on sight' too early and not allowing for enough sounding out and blending to develop automaticity and correct tracking.

Letter reversals need lots of practice of writing the letter correctly while saying its 'sound'. Don't let him start to write both his b's & d's from the top of the ascender. He'll get to the bottom and not remember which way to go next! 'd' starts with the 'round', 'b' starts with the ascender. Letters are always written in a L to R direction (when correctly formed)

When reading 'd' and 'b': 'd' starts with mouth open (the 'round' bit) so when he sees 'round' first he opens his mouth to say the sound. 'b' starts with a straight line, like a closed mouth (I know, sideways on..). When he sees a straight line first he closes his mouth to say the sound. This works with 'p' and 'q' too.

simpson Wed 14-Nov-12 22:24:53

I think it is just practice as DD ( also reception) used to read "was" as "saw" for ages.....

It took her a while for b and d to click, she always got them the wrong way round but we are through that now grin

I also agree with mrz in telling your DC that he does not have to sound out the words if he knows it. I can always tell when DD has done guided reading at school as she comes home sounding out the word c a t despite being on this stage over a year ago because the other kids do it...

SilveryMoon Wed 14-Nov-12 21:54:35

I have told him a number of times that if he knows what the word says he can just say it. Her does it for small words like is, in, on etc. he says those words straight out. But not wordsthat are any longer.
He also gets on and no confused, says d's as b's and b's and d's when reading, on instead of no and today I watched him looking at the word 'tap' and saying 'p-a-t. No, t or p or is it t' etc. I have raised it with his teacher but she says it's nothing to be concerned about.............................

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 21:22:51

Has anyone ever told him he doesn't need to sound out the words if he can read them in his head? Silly as it sounds to adults some children wait for permission.

SilveryMoon Wed 14-Nov-12 21:18:13

He can hear the word when it is blended out loud. We play games where I say 'c-a-t' and he says 'cat'
he gets all of that right, if we look at flash cards and matching stuff he can tell me straight out what it says but in a book, bloody phonics sounding out, even though I think he knows the word

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 21:11:35

SilveryMoon can he hear the word when you say the sounds (blend aurally) rather than looking at the letters or would he still struggle with blending?

SilveryMoon Wed 14-Nov-12 21:04:11

Learnandsay I don't think it's confidence at all. I kind of thought I'd highlighted in my post that it's confusion and the fact he gets lost in phonics.
I have a plan in mind to support him and am quite happy with what I will do.

beezmum Wed 14-Nov-12 20:26:04

It might sound obvious but children apparently don't 'get' blending until they realise the sounds they have learnt represent the sounds in words. All the tips mentioned here help achieve that - I'd go with the sliding tip as it comes from experts that have taught more struggling blenders than I've written mumsnet posts! My ds also liked Alphablocks though.
The point I am making is just to clarify what it is you are trying to achieve when you demonstrate blending- it can seem odd that they cant hear what seems obvious to us as skilled readers - that the sounds they have learnt represent the sounds in words - that is what needs to 'click'.

sittinginthesun Wed 14-Nov-12 20:13:45

What Purple said earlier in the thread. I think it is a development thing, and it clicks, just like walking or crawling. If they're not ready, then reading books for fun is good, but no point stressing.

My eldest is a super bright boy - he's in year 4 now, and is top of top groups for literacy etc. But, back in Reception, he simply could not grasp the idea of blending. He knew his letters and sounds, but couldn't blend at all.

It clicked literally in place one afternoon. He came home, picked up his school reading book, and read it - sounded the words out, and just read them. After a term, he had moved through about six ORT levels.

Just relax, and wait for it to fall into place.

learnandsay Wed 14-Nov-12 19:58:50

moon, that sounds like a confidence issue rather than a lack of technique. The poor boy has probably been made to sound out so much that he does it out of force of habit. Are there any books that he loves so much that he's learned them by heart? Tracing over the words with his finger as he "recites/reads" could be the beginning of a new habit one of reading without sounding out. If he learns both habits he can switch between the two as required.

SilveryMoon Wed 14-Nov-12 19:31:13

My ds1 is 5 (august) and is now in year 1.
We've just had his parents evening where the teacher told me that ds1 is below average in everything.
She wants to work on his reading first.
I thought ds1 was doing quite well. I knew he wasn't going to be top of the class but thought he was doing well. He reads ok, does a lot of sounding out and gets some words wrong, but makes a good effort. he writes independently, and his spelling is getting there.
I think his school are expecting a little too much, from what I can gather from parents from other schools.
His teacher sent home some flash cards, we, me, she, be and said she will add 1 or 2 more as he gets these right consistently and this is the extent of the strategy to bring him up to where he should be.
So, looks like it['s down to me then.
He really enjoys the starfall website where he can start to bbuild cvc words by adding the first letter. There are lots of games etc on there, also cbeebies alphablocks (like others have said).
We also watch phonics songs etc on youtube, loads of nice bits on there.
We play matching games with flashcards and I pretend to get words wrong so he can help me.
I've also started on working on his audio skills by sounding out words that he has to tell me, like, b-igh-k, c-a-sh etc etc.
A rhyming game where I point to a part of my body and say a rhyming word and thenn he says the body part, like, I point to my nose and say 'rose', he says 'nose' and once he gets the hang of it we'll switch the order and I'll say body part and he can say a rhyming word.
I'm also thinking of knocking off phonics with reading at home.
I'm going to do a mix of phonics and full language reading by modelling reading. So he brings a book home from school, it's the same book for a week, so days 1 and 2, he can read as he pleases (sounding out all words), nights 3 and 4 I'm going to model reading and have him repeat after me and then read again on his own and on night 5, see where he is with reading independently.
the reason for this is that he is currently reading a book about rockets. he's sounding out words like can, tup, lid, all words I think he knows and then he looked at the word rocket, said 'rocket' and then said 'oh' and went back to sound it all out (r-o-ck-e-t) and then said 'get' I think he's getting caught up and lost in the phonics so def want to start working without it.
Why is it we teach them that d-o-g says dog but that the just says the?
We've just done the reading modelling and it went really well.

MilkRunningOutAgain Wed 14-Nov-12 18:22:07

My dd couldn't blend at all in reception. I did lots of games and tried to make it fun but it meant nothing to her. One day in the summer holidays between yr r and yr 1 she got it and went back to school at the start of yr 1 able to read cvc words and starting to have a go at harder ones.

For her, it was just a case of waiting until it clicked. She's in yr 2 now and a good reader who loves stories.

SoundsWrite Wed 14-Nov-12 17:07:53

I would follow maizieD's advice. You'll also find it easier to practise blending activities if you use three-sound words (CVC) that begin with a continuant, a sound you can hang on to. For example, you can hang on to /f/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /r/, /s/ /w/ and /v/, relatively easily. This enables the child to hear the word and to blend the sounds in the word. So, if you write the word 'mat' on a whiteboard or piece of paper, go 'mmmmmmmaaaaaaat', tracking your finger under each sound as you stretch it out. Your child should be able to hear the word 'mat'. After your son has read the word, ask him to write it, saying each sound separately now as he does and then reading the word back sound by sound, followed by the whole word. If he needs help forming the letters, help him by providing a model. Use a light coloured pen or marker and let him go over what you've done with a darker colour. Add dots to show where to start and arrows to shoe orientation if necessary.

RaisinBoys Wed 14-Nov-12 16:21:51

Remember it well. Aug born DS. Around this time in Recep he just didn't get it. I didn't push it, just carried on sharing books (and slipping in a little bit of phonics). A few weeks later, he just got it. He was ready.

Not looked back. Now Y5 - prolific reader.

Hang in there and do not stress too much. Just give it a bit more time. If still worried talk to teacher.

SilveryMoon Wed 14-Nov-12 07:11:29

Marking my place.
Ds1 just started year 1 and turned 5 in August.
I was told at parents evening that he's below average in everything.
Just leaving for work but back later to read and rant about the down sides of pushing phonics. Imo.

PPPop Wed 14-Nov-12 07:05:26

Your post was a little patronising, learnandsay. Maybe have another read of it and see how it could come across? <pats learnandsay on the head>

RiversideMum Wed 14-Nov-12 06:48:54

I agree with Purpleprickles. I teach reception and I find that blending for reading takes some time for some children to aquire, but that what tends to happen is that one day they "get it".

In my class at the moment, less than a third are blending confidently enough to have a reading book. I'd expect most of the class to be reading by the end of the Spring term. Those that know few letter/sound correspondences by Christmas, or who are not reading by Easter, I'd say will need "extra support". So, not knowing your child or the cohort, it surprises me that the teacher is using a word like "struggling" and saying that he "won't" rather than "can't" blend only 10 weeks into the term.

Learning to read is not a race (despite what you may pick up from MN) and there is no evidence that children who read fluently in reception are necessarily going to be high achievers through life. Let's face it, most countries in the world don't bother teaching reading at this age anyway.

I think it's really important when teaching reading to go at the child's pace otherwise he or she will decide reading is too hard before they even get started. Your DS seems to be illustrating this point. Reading is such a wonderful gift that we don't want any child to be thinking they can't do it. TBH, I'd focus at home on what your child CAN do rather than what he can't do. So if he knows letter/sound correspondences, and you want to do work at home then concentrate on those. Even better, bake some cakes or go on a lovely walk.

PastSellByDate Wed 14-Nov-12 06:06:56

Hi Laudymissclaudy:

I thought I'd just say that both my DDs (DD1 now Y5/ DD2 now Y3) took a while to be able to sound out words and certainly neither was making a lot of progress before Christmas in Class R.

DD1 in particular was very slow to 'get it' but also turned 5 shortly after starting school.

We found alphablocks incredibly helpful - the cartoon format and cheerful tunes which are very catchy really helped introduce these concepts for DD2 (not out in time for DD1). BBC Alphablocks here:

Now the other thing to remember is that elsewhere in the world children do not start primary school until the year they are turning 6 and are not expected to properly commence learning to read (to blend sounds) until the year they are turning 7.

I know it can be really hard to not be concerned or aware that other children seem to be picking it up no problem - but you really do need to treat this like any other milestone your child has had to date. Your DS will get there in his own good time. Right now he needs your support and it's essential you are positive about the pleasure and importance of reading, not necessarily that he gets on with it right now. It's very important that you are outwardly relaxed about his reading and show confidence that he'll get there in the end.

We found with DD1 (phonetics system just introduced and not as well taught as with DD2 a few years later with a different teacher) that slow and steady got us there. Be prepared for a frustrated child and a child who is fully aware they are in 'bottom group' or 'not doing very well'. Just keep reassuring him that you know he'll get there in the end. It's a marathon - not a 100m dash.

We also found advice and resources on Oxford Owl very helpful for DD2 (sadly not discovered or possibly out there for DD1). Link here:


midseasonsale Wed 14-Nov-12 06:01:08

we taught ours wee, poo, fart, bum, pants etc .. and then started to make up silly sentences using the words.

Malaleuca Wed 14-Nov-12 04:56:13

Sing the sounds, works a treat.

kilmuir Tue 13-Nov-12 23:37:59

pocket phonics is a good app

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